When you think about performance reviews, what do you think?
Chances are, your first thoughts aren't positive, and the day of your performance review isn't a day you circle with positive anticipation.
The fact is that . . .
Most performance reviews . . . aren't very effective.
Most performance reviews . . . are stressful.
Most performance reviews . . . don’t help the performer very much and they don’t help them succeed in the future.
There are many things that can be done to positively impact the review process, but today I am going to talk about just one. It is something that you can do regardless of your organizational process, the nature of your “form” or anything else. You can implement this as an individual leader, simply and easily.
When you do this well, you will . . .
• Reduce the stress and anxiety of the review meeting for both parties.
• Reduce the number of surprises that occur in these meetings.
• Engage the performer in the process significantly more.
• Create more accountability and ownership in the performer.
• Reduce defensiveness in the process.
If you could do something to improve just one of these outcomes, it would be worth trying, right?
I agree, and like I said, when you do what I am about to suggest, you will likely get all five outcomes!
Are you ready?
Here it is:
Have the performer (the person being reviewed) come prepared to be an equal participant in the meeting.
After all, it is their performance, right?
If your existing process encourages people to do a self evaluation, have them take it seriously, and hold people accountable for doing it, and bringing it to the meeting. Then use their comments and reflections as a substantial part of the conversation.
If your process doesn’t suggest or expect this, do it anyway. Your goal is for the performer to spend as much time in thought and preparation for the meeting as you do. After all, it is their performance, right?
Here are some questions you can use to help them prepare. They are just suggestions to get you started. You will think of others, and you will adjust these to fit your situation. Ask people to think over the time period in question (quarter, six months or year) and answer these questions:
What are you most proud of?
What is your biggest accomplishment or success?
What do you see as your strengths?
What are some areas of challenge or weakness?
Where have you made the most progress?
Where do you still need the most progress?
In what ways have you received help or support?
What do you see as your focus for the coming year (or appropriate time period)?
What help/support do you need now?
What have you learned that you want to make sure you don’t repeat?
What have you learned that you want to make sure you continue to apply?
Giving this list (or your own adapted list) of questions to your people in plenty of time for them to review, reflect and record their answers prior to your review meeting is a critical first step. Equally important to more successful meetings is to value, ask about, and talk about their reflections. Ask them first and consider it your goal that the other person does at least half of the talking during this performance conversation.
This approach may not be what people are used to – so expect to explain your intention and to hold them responsible to come prepared.
When you do these things you will make performance reviews less painful and more effective – both for you and the person you are reviewing.

Author's Bio: 

Join leaders from around the world as a member of the Remarkable Leadership Learning System. This system includes two complimentary months of that unique system as part of Kevin Eikenberry's Most Remarkable Free Leadership Gift Ever today at http://MostRemarkableFreeLeadershipGiftEver.com.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. You can learn more about him and a special offer on his newest book, Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a time, at http://RemarkableLeadershipBook.com/bonuses.asp .